The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

Statement Regarding Portland Bankruptcy Ruling


December 30, 2005

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis (314) 566-9790 cell
National Director of SNAP

We applaud this ruling, and the courageous and determined abuse victims whose dedication to disclosing horrific clergy sex cover ups has brought it about. We're one step closer to unveiling the truth about devastating clergy sex crimes and complicit church officials.

Now, there's at least a chance that long-suffering victims will see some justice in the open, time-tested American court system, and use that system to warn families about predators and those who shield them.

There is no absolutely no evidence to suggest that any parish will suffer financial hardship as a result of this decision. For church officials to raise this threat is shameful fear-mongering.

We can only hope that this ruling will deter those who employ and supervise molesters from recklessly putting kids at risk. And we can hope that they are now warned that they must put children's safety first.

David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director (314) 566-9790 cell
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP Founder and President (312) 399 4747 cell
Mark Serrano of Leasburg VA, SNAP Board Member (703) 727 4940 cell
Mary Grant of Long Beach CA, SNAP Board Member (626) 419 2930
Terrie Light of Hayward CA, SNAP Board Member (510) 517 3338 cell
Peter Isely of Milwaukee, SNAP Board Member (414) 429 7259 cell, (414) 963 8617


Portland Archdiocese, Not Parishes, to Pay in Suits

By WILLIAM McCALL - The Associated Press
Friday, December 30, 2005

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A bankruptcy judge ruled Friday that the Archdiocese of Portland, not its parishes, owns church assets, dealing a major blow to its efforts to protect church property from lawsuits filed by alleged victims of priest sex abuse.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris, in a pair of opinions, ruled that church property and real estate is under the control of the archdiocese, not its individual parishes, as attorneys for the archdiocese had argued.

Her ruling settles one of the main questions on the bankruptcy _ whether accepting the jurisdiction of a federal court might violate the First Amendment rights of the church to the "free exercise" of religion by forcing it to ignore church law on ownership.

"There is no First Amendment impediment to this court's jurisdiction," Perris wrote.

However, Perris left open the question of whether the sale of that property could pose an unfair burden on the practice of religion under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act of 1993.

Her ruling supports an earlier ruling in the bankruptcy of the Diocese of Spokane, Wash., which sought protection from creditors shortly after the Archdiocese of Portland became the first Catholic diocese in the nation to file for bankruptcy in July 2004.

In the Washington case, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams said Spokane Bishop William Skylstad agreed to abide by federal law when he voluntarily entered the diocese into bankruptcy, and cannot claim that ownership must decided by church law.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests